To understand balancing work and life, it is important to know what it is not. Work-life balance does not mean you have an exactly equal number of working hours and doing personal activities. This is unrealistic and can be unrewarding, as work performance can suffer drastically.
In addition, work-life balance is not set in stone for the rest of your life and is not the same for everyone. Balancing work and life can change depending on transitions in life, whether that be children or grandchildren being born or getting married, for example.1
True work-life balance is achieving satisfaction in professional, personal, and family life, regardless of how many hours are dedicated to each.
The thought of improving work life balance may seem far out of reach; however, obtaining work-life balance is critical to your emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
Your Mental Health And Well-Being: Improving Work Life Balance For Mental And Overall Health
In a recent study in the UK, one-third of those surveyed reported feeling unhappy or very unhappy at work. In addition, two-thirds of employees reported their work schedule had a negative effect on their personal life, including physical and mental problems, as well as poorer relationship quality.2
In contrast, when you can achieve better work-life balance, your mental health can flourish. Work and life should not feel in competition with each other, but should complement each other. Flexible work arrangements, part-time work, or a positive work environment can help an employee increase focus and perform better, tackling tasks both at work and at home.
Factors To Consider: Job Satisfaction, Employee Benefits, And Work Schedule Flexibility
When you achieve greater work-life balance, your job satisfaction can soar. Positive work-life balance in a business as a whole can decrease conflicts, increase productivity, and achieve higher employee retention rates.3 This cycle then creates happier, more satisfied employees, who in turn work harder for the business and create an even better work environment. Team-building exercises can also improve satisfaction at work.
Another factor to consider that impacts work-life balance is employee benefits. As a whole, staff who spent less vacation time report up to 55% more burnout at work.4 Less vacation time may significantly decrease feelings of work-life balance.
Lastly, a flexible schedule can be both a blessing and a curse to achieving work-life balance. On one hand, some workers find a flexible schedule, like working remotely or having the option to work from home sometimes, can help minimize stress around running a home, scheduling medical appointments, or completing important errands. On the other hand, some staff can take flexible scheduling too far and constantly be on their work device at home to avoid missing any work. When flexibly scheduling work, balance is key.
The Physical Health Benefits Of Achieving Work-Life Balance
It is no secret that when your mental health suffers due to work-related stress or stress in your personal life, your physical health can suffer, too. People with mental health disorders are more likely to have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illness, and other disorders that affect bones, joints, and muscles.5
With a poor work-life balance, it can be hard to find time in the day for relaxation, exercise and healthy eating. Finding time for a quick walk during your lunch break, utilizing a standing desk, choosing a salad, or taking a 5-minute break to relax at work can support your mental health as well as your physical health.
More Ways To Improve The Balance Between Your Job And Your Personal Life: Goals And Priorities
You can take simple steps at work to try to accomplish balancing work and life. Here are ways to strategize and prioritize your work, which can help your physical and mental well-being.6
- Set goals each day. Research shows that making a “To do” list and completing small tasks one at a time helps us feel accomplished and satisfied throughout the day. If you have a big project at work, tackle each individual task one step at a time.
- Take 5 minutes for a break. Small breaks at work, rather than one longer break, can increase productivity. Stand up, take a walk around the office, or stretch to break up the monotony of work and clear your mind. These are ways to improve your mindset and stimulate your day.
- Listen to music. If your workplace allows it, listening to music can help you feel relaxed and productive when tackling work.
- Communicate. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, tell your boss or co-workers, and rather than complaining, suggest alternatives. For example, suggest an additional small break, a standing work desk, or a slightly more flexible deadline to alleviate stress. Compromise when necessary.7 Team-building exercises may improve communication and help destress.
How To Achieve Greater Balance At Home
Family and home demands can make it difficult to achieve work-life balance. These strategies can help you relax and unwind at home.8
- Unplug if necessary. Having “flexible” work hours sometimes makes it hard to truly unplug at home, but if you can put away the work phone or laptop even for an hour, your mental health could improve.
- Just say “No.” Spending too much energy both at work and at home can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes, it is perfectly acceptable to say no to an extra project for your peace of mind at home to avoid working too much.
Stay active. Taking a walk in the neighborhood after work or getting an inexpensive treadmill for your home could help you release stress at home.9
- If you have it, take advantage of your employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Many companies offer resources and help through an EAP, which can recommend daycares at decreased costs and caretaking agencies for aging parents, and make referrals to mental health services. On-site childcare can be one option that decreases stress at home.
- Divide and conquer. Although some people feel like they need to complete everything at work and home independently, relying on others and distributing tasks can put less pressure on you, and avoid confusion and conflict in your home.
Follow these strategies to help achieve work-life balance not only in your workplace but also at home.
With some effort, knowing the benefits and how to achieve greater work-life balance can be key to discovering professional and personal happiness.
Refresh Yourself With Some Pampering for Your Mind, Body, and Soul: Start a Self Care Routine Now
How To Fit Exercise Into A Busy Schedule: Workout Tricks When Time Is Limited
Try A Fun New Year Fitness Challenge In 2020 For Better Health And Wellness